ISLAMABAD: Pakistan has been spending just 0.6pc of the GDP on the health sector though the World Health Organisation (WHO) has suggested we allocate 4pc of the GDP to health, said Dr Mohammad Safi, program director at the Ministry of National Health Services.

Dr Safi was speaking at a consultation on ‘Health Related Sustainable Development Goals’ (SDGs) on Thursday which was hosted by the Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI).

“For many years, Afghanistan and Iran have been spending 6pc of their GDP on health. It is now time to give the health sector in Pakistan attention and importance or we will not be able to achieve the SDGs by 2030,” Dr Safi said.

He said almost half the country’s population dies from non-communicable diseases and that mental health is not given importance.

“Every patient should have access to doctors and medicines for which the media can play an important role. Attention should be given to the already existing care system which is not up to the mark,” he added.

Dr Safi said the younger generation spends more time in front of laptops and tabs and less in physical activities. He said the youth also prefers junk food due to which diabetes and pre-mature deaths and now more common in the younger generation.

He said all stakeholders should play their role in raising awareness about health related issues which should also be included in the curriculum so the younger generation knows how to live a healthy life.

SDPI representative Shafqat Munir said building resilience in communities is imperative for achieving the desired targets in health related SDGs and that this is also the only viable option for achieving the rest of the global development agenda as well.

Researcher Sadiya Razzaq said health is an important determinant of economic and social prosperity of a country and that it was also important for achieving the SDGs. She said it will be appropriate to view health as the heart of efforts related to achieving the SDGs.

Published in Dawn, July 14th, 2017